Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Paragraph returns included shocker...

Amusing start to the day courtesy of The Sun. It appears that CBeebies favourite Mr Tumble has been greeting toddlers with some unsavoury sign language at the start of Something Special. When he rubs his hands together using Makaton sign language to greet his young audience, in an effort to communicate that “I’m happy to see you”, it's been misconstrued by British Sign Language users as “I’m f****** you” [The Sun's asterisks. When did they get so fucking moralistic?]. Which would be something of a shock and has led to a string of complaints. The BBC deny any wrong doing and Mr Tumble, writes Lucy Hagan, "still opens every show by making the same hand-rubbing signal". Read it all here.

Elsewhere, o'er the Atlantic, the New York Times highlights that London will be home to a series of exhibitions that scrape away the enamel that gleams over Britain's role in the abolition of slavery:

Rather than dwelling on William Wilberforce, the feisty abolitionist who drove the reform through the British Parliament and is the subject of the film “Amazing Grace,” these shows are highlighting a far uglier back story: Britain’s deep engagement in the slave trade in earlier centuries and the fundamental role this played in forging the nation’s wealth and power.

Which, I think, would have been a good thing to have seen in Hull. Understandably, city fathers (and mothers!) here are very excited about this 'ere bicentenary because William Wilberforce was from this neck of the woods. But it seems that the whole thing is rather easy on the eye and mind and a bit too joyous and, dare I say it, white. But, then, I write this while sitting in a city that is unarguably one of the least multi-cultural in the country, so what did I expect? Read the NY Times article here (registration required but worth it).

Spent much of yesterday crouched by our low-level printer which was stuttering and stalling to print out the 170 pages that make up the novel wot I writted at the end of last year. It was a lengthy process due to a never ending stream of technical hitches. Why is it that, whenever you really need a printer, it always a) immediately runs out of ink and b) manages to shred half of the paper that's been fed into it? Answers via fax machine, please.

Also listened to Pinter's The Homecoming via Radio 3 and the Beeb's Listen Again function, which is well-worth the licence fee in itself, as someone might have written to Points of View once upon a time. Starring Pinter himself, no less. And there it was - sub-conscious plagiarism shouting at me in the ear. Yes, The Homecoming and Sully share three of the same words in the same order: Humber Super Snipe. I do apologise, Harold, it wasn't an intentional homage, although in future I will be telling people it was.

Right, excuse me while I go and post that manuscript before redrafting a play.


Anonymous said...

Poor Mr Tumble!

Stephen Newton said...

On this side of the Pennines, North West Tonight is running a surprisingly good for regional news series on slavery, which you can watch online: www.bbc.co.uk/northwesttonight. Tonight we see how the slave traders spent their money.

Dave W said...

Yes, that is good Stephen, thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

It may be useful to know that you can log in to many online news sites (including the NY Times) without divulging personal information by using bugmenot.com

Dave W said...

Well, anonymous, it appears you're big on anonymity. Well done, whoever you may be. Registration often strikes fear into me the same way as the question Do you have a Tesco Clubcard? does down the supermarket.

Benjamin said...

Dave, this is a great post and your most recent comment here is very funny.

Some good points about the William Wilberforce stuff. It's great that we're celebrating the man and I think the fact that, as you say, mostly white people will be involved (working, getting paid or going to museums and events) in this... er, bicentenary... shows that...

It's great that slavery has ended but I'm pleased you point out how access to money and power remains much harder for people whose skin colour isn't what we call white.

Hull is 'Unarguably one of the least multi-cultural [cities in the] country', though? I don't agree.

I see lots of people around my neighbourhood with all kinds of shades of skin tone. I think the racial make-up of the population has changed very dramatically in the last ten years. It was very different ten years ago and I think because of this relatively rapid change there tends to be quite a bit of racism around these parts. Which is maybe what you meant, I don't know. Probably East Hull has a much whiter population than where I live in West Hull, anyway.

I think you've written a good article. There's a lot going on in it. The New York times talking about London. London examining the slave trade in more detail than Hull yet we still salute (mostly white) people from Hull celebrating the abolition of slavery.

And none of what follows is referenced in this article but I guess you'll have some interest and know what I'm referring to.

The Hull Daily Mail doing there, I don't know, what is it, sign up and end slavery that still goes on in certain parts of the world, I'm not sure. It's a petition, I think. But I don't understand how a newspaper that ultimately tends to sign up to remnants of colonial exploitation in that they will and do say what their tacky old company wants them to say can have the gall to suggest that they are helping get rid of... ooh, exploitative conditions of trading around the world... I don't get that.

Dave W said...

Hi Ben
Lovely thoughtful comments. I thank you. Yes, I think I did think and probably mean - but didn't say - that some of Hull's residents are racists. Shit, I may have adopted the horrific stance of accepting all the bigots round these parts. What sort of sets my mind racing is that by celebrating Wilberforce the man rather than the achievements of the anti-slavery lobby he was but a mere part of, which is what we appear to be doing in this city, we're reinforcing the fallacy that one race can rule over the other - ie. 200 years ago the white man very graciously one day said, "okay, you can be free now". Course, it's a lot more complex than this comments box will allow and my small brain has the capacity for, but we can but try. Maybe I'm also making assumptions about the upcoming events, which I sincerely hope confound my expectations and blast apart my preconceptions and leave me praising Hull City Council for its efforts. They've certainly invested some money in fancy vinyl banners, I'll say that for them and, as we all know, in a complex war of ideologies, vinyl beats racism.

You're right, Hull is developing a lovely multi-cultured glow out West which some of us are keen to embrace. I must stop spending my spare time on tracksuitastic Holderness Road.

Ditto your comments re the HDM.

Benjamin said...

Cheers, Dave. Lovely thoughtful comments from you, the writer of Sully, no less.

Maybe it's my semi-Jewish racial make-up. Maybe it's my politically 'correct(?)' upbringing but I've found it difficult to discuss racism over the years.

But there's a lot of it about in the world and in the tabloid papers so these days I don't shy away from talking and listening to many different viewpoints.

Your point about William Wilberforce is a very good one. Regards x